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Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
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2:46 p.m. - 2013-11-06
Memories...bite the corners of my mind.

Photographs.

I don't know what happened to the family pictures after my mother died. I assume my sister Gidget inherited them along with all the rest of the family detritus- paperwork, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, our grandmother's Chanel suits. Those things and our grandfather's multimillion dollar stock portfolio which our mother hadn't managed to entirely wipe out with her cocaine habit (she tried though!). The pictures- photographs of varying vintage starting with wavy-edged black and whites and running on through Polaroids, oddly matte finished edgeless ones from the 1970s, drugstore-developed snapshots of all kinds of shapes and sizes- they all lived in two large soft-sided plastic envelopes that sealed with plastic 'zippers' which later on came to be known as Zip-Loc. The envelopes had been 'liberated' from the office supply of the multinational corporation where my grandfather had been a bigwig and where my mother spent the last 20 years of her working life before retiring on Grandpa's dough and devoting herself to being a fulltime drug addict.

I have about ten childhood photographs of myself and truly wish I had more. I'd have also liked to have had the crèche that lived beneath all of my childhood Christmas trees. That manger scene with the balsa wood building and ever more fragile plaster of Paris figurines. Figurines I repainted a few times over the years carefully masking the lumpy glue scars of bad repairs and learned to apply gold leaf to freshen the angel's halo and the wise men's crowns. I remember my mother once saying she'd bought that manger set at Kresge's the first Christmas she and my Da were married. I imagined her hugely pregnant (with me) and next to flat broke sorting through the selection trying to find the one that had the most bang for her buck. (Two bucks actually. $1.98 plus tax.) The manger came with the building, some grapevine 'hay', the principal figures (the Holy family, an angel, three wise men) plus a sheep, a donkey, and one lonely shepherd. Over the years I added to it with sparkly cotton batting and plastic animals of my own culled from barnyard sets that sold in plastic bag collections like army men. I don't know why I made such an effort really, I'd given up on God by the time I was 8. But the Christmas story and its little play-set beneath the tree made me happy. Tradition. I craved it. The same way I always made sure to be in front of the TV during the annual showing of 'The Wizard of Oz'. There weren't many touchstones in my flaky shaky life of divorce, men in and men out, new schools, new apartments, and an ever-changing kaleidoscope of rules and responsibilities. The manger scene was Important, it carried time forward and anchored the past. And knowing my little sister who spent her life at the Danbury mall and was all about the New and Improved had chucked that crèche into the garbage without a backward glance just kills me.

Anyhow, the photographs. Of course I don't remember all of them, there were dozens and dozens, but I can still see many of them in my mind's eye. However, mind's eye pictures can't be framed and put on the console in the foyer. It's upsetting. I feel like a Bigfoot. There's the idea I exist but there's scant evidence to prove it. Besides, there's millions of folk who want Bigfoot to be real and only Mick and Wolf truly give a shit whether I am.

Like those poor replicants in 'Blade Runner', the ones who cling to their programmed 'memories' and the scant handful of photographs given to them to solidify their claim on humanity, I am so without substantial proof of a whole life lived I sometimes wonder if I'm real. Heh, I'm the opposite of sociopaths- in their minds they're the only real beings and everything else is make-believe, in my mind everything else is real and I am the imaginary one.

No worries. I haven't gone off the rails. It's just that we're coming up on the winter holidays and it's a tough time for me. I invited some best beloved friends for Thanksgiving and got shot down. This one meal I cook wholly with joy and gratitude and hoped to share with good friends and loved ones and I was found wanting and not good enough to make the effort for. It hurts. A lot. Dopey me to think my cooking and my company was worth a bridge toll and a bit of a drive. Uh huh.

Then comes Christmas. And it'll just be me and Mick who hates celebrations and lights and all the goofy shit of trees, presents and stockings, carols and decorations and jingle bells. Wolf who's edging up on 17 and has to spend a bifurcated holiday being shuttled between his soppy sentimental mom who does her best but doesn't quite make it and his Aspie father who gives shit presents but does drive him down to his aunt's where all the cousins and uncles and his big brother go to celebrate and he's surrounded by family and expensive gifts and dogs who play fetch and is full of everything his awful unwanted mother can't give him.

And what of Alex? Who I dared believe was coming home on Christmas three years ago and I sat up until 3:00am on Christmas Eve/morning and waited and waited and waited until it was Dec 26 before I finally admitted I'd gotten my hopes up for nothing?

Stupid. I am so very stupid. This big smushy heart of mine keeps walking me off a cliff.

You'd think by now I'd have learned. 50 years of experience. 167 IQ. And I still set myself up for disappointment and pain. Goddamn holidays.


Stupid is as stupid does. ~LA





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